17 Dec 2023

Early stanzas: getting a feel for the new Parliament

From The House , 7:35 am on 17 December 2023

Two weeks in, but really only one full week so far, and already the 54th Parliament feels kind of heavy and intense.

Maybe it’s the fiery exchanges in Question Time, or the unique energy that comes from going headlong into repealing laws that the previous parliament deliberated on and passed just a few months back. Maybe it’s the end of year grind and pre-Christmas dread kicking in. Or maybe it’s simply the usual birthing process a parliament goes through whereby it finds its own shape and mood.

National Party MP Chris Penk participating in Parliament's Justice Select Committee.

Chris Penk in select committee Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

So things are dynamic in this freshly minted Parliament, and many MPs are either still finding their feet or feeling out the others to see how they roll. In this Sunday edition of The House, we take a look at the Parliament discovering how the new Speaker Gerry Brownlee will interpret the rules, this week’s contention being whether he can force adequate answers from ministers or indeed any answers.

We also sit down for a chat with National’s Chris Penk to hear about how he’s undergoing the transformation to government minister after being in opposition for six years. Penk of course is freshly sworn in as the Minister for Building and Construction, Minister for Veterans Affairs and Minister Land Information, in addition to Associate Minister of both Defence and Immigration. The member for Kaipara ki Mahurangi is the first to admit being a minister is a different level of responsibility and intensity to being the senior whip in opposition, but he is nothing if not enthusiastic.

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